FW3A Troubleshooting / FAQ

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caramba
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JasonWW wrote:

You don’t get the power connected blink? That is a basic function not connected to the switch or inner tube. It’s st battery power going through the tail cap and battery tube to the head. This explains the switch not working. The driver is not getting power.

Thank you all for trying to help
I connected the head to the battery, the way you described it, I got some sparks initially, smelled some smoke but nothing else. Light is not turning on and no blinks.Then I put on the outer tube, and nothing at all.

retaining rings seem to be tight enough, I didn’t take apart the head yet, I think I need a little different pliers. Dont want to damage the threads
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caramba wrote:
JasonWW wrote:

You don’t get the power connected blink? That is a basic function not connected to the switch or inner tube. It’s st battery power going through the tail cap and battery tube to the head. This explains the switch not working. The driver is not getting power.

Thank you all for trying to help
I connected the head to the battery, the way you described it, I got some sparks initially, smelled some smoke but nothing else. Light is not turning on and no blinks.Then I put on the outer tube, and nothing at all.

retaining rings seem to be tight enough, I didn’t take apart the head yet, I think I need a little different pliers. Dont want to damage the threads
Applying power to the head might cause a super tiny spark if your looking real close, but definitely not a big spark or cause smoke visually or by smell. It sounds like you have a bad driver.

One possible scenario is the person you lent it to might have put the battery in backwards and it damaged the driver. Maybe? IDK. I believe I’ve seen replacement drivers being sold. You’d need to be able to solder the 2 wires going to the LED’s, to swap it. Not too complicated.

One thing to try and loosen the driver retaining ring is to push on one notch with a tool like a tiny flat head screwdriver. Alternate sides. Most snap ring pliers are too big to reach in and grab it.

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caramba
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JasonWW wrote:
caramba wrote:
JasonWW wrote:

You don’t get the power connected blink? That is a basic function not connected to the switch or inner tube. It’s st battery power going through the tail cap and battery tube to the head. This explains the switch not working. The driver is not getting power.

Thank you all for trying to help
I connected the head to the battery, the way you described it, I got some sparks initially, smelled some smoke but nothing else. Light is not turning on and no blinks.Then I put on the outer tube, and nothing at all.

retaining rings seem to be tight enough, I didn’t take apart the head yet, I think I need a little different pliers. Dont want to damage the threads
Applying power to the head might cause a super tiny spark if your looking real close, but definitely not a big spark or cause smoke visually or by smell. It sounds like you have a bad driver.

One possible scenario is the person you lent it to might have put the battery in backwards and it damaged the driver. Maybe? IDK. I believe I’ve seen replacement drivers being sold. You’d need to be able to solder the 2 wires going to the LED’s, to swap it. Not too complicated.

One thing to try and loosen the driver retaining ring is to push on one notch with a tool like a tiny flat head screwdriver. Alternate sides. Most snap ring pliers are too big to reach in and grab it.

I see so FW3A doesn’t have reverse polarity protection. Will keep trying to take apart the head. and get a driver if nothing else.
Thank you again

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caramba wrote:

I see so FW3A doesn’t have reverse polarity protection.

I don’t know. I see one diode on the MCU power input. I guess that protects the MCU.

I tried digging around and can not find out for sure if has reverse polarity protection. Maybe someone who knows will comment. I am just trying to think of what could possibly happen that might cause the driver to stop working. They are pretty robust.

Another possible scenario might be the other person left it on turbo for too long and damaged one of the LEDs. A shorted led might try to pass current causing a spark when power is connected and a burning smell. Actually, anything that is shorted will do that. Ceramic capacitors used for filtering AC current do occasionally short. That is seen in Apple laptops all the time. In this FW3A driver I see at least three filtering caps. The FET or a 7135 chip could have also shorted, but that’s rare.

You should be able to check whether or not the LEDs are working by installing a battery in the light, removing the lens and using a jumper wire from the black negative connector on the mcpcb directly to a ground point in the head. When a battery is installed you have power going to the LED red wire all the time and the driver basically controls the current going to ground. So if you short it, you will get Turbo power to the leds. You just want to touch the wire super fast to see if the leds light up or not. You don’t want them to overheat.

Here is a basic diagram of a FET driver flashlight. You see how the black wire goes from the mcpcb to the driver? If you short that negative to ground you basically bypass the driver and the LEDs should come on full power. If you short the wire and the LEDs don’t come on, make sure you’re getting voltage on the red wire. If you put 3 to 4 volts across those LED wires it should work unless there is a problem with a burnt-out LED or a shorted out LED.

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hank
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OK, I’ll defer to TK’s advice hereafter. It’s the conservative approach, no question about that.

I suppose an overheated lamp could vaporize the gel and redeposit it in bad places, on a high powered light.
Tho’ from experience, I’ve got a handful of Arc AAAs on which I’ve long ago cleaned up contact surfaces with [a tiny dab of] Nyogel and cured flickering due to dirty threads.

Note the black powder that accumulates on aluminum threads — it’s aluminum oxide, an insulator, that forms and is scraped off any time the threads are worked.
That’s what you want to remove. Wipe with a clean cloth if you don’t have the recommended lubricant to pick the stuff up.

Aluminum itelf reacts extremely fast with oxygen in the air, so produces a fresh oxide layer immediately when the thread contact moves.
middle age man
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I have an FW3A that turns off around mid-high while ramping up. The problem is intermittent. I can fix it by unscrewing the head and screwing it on again. My thought is a dry solder joint cutting off an FET channel, rather than a contact issue. What do you think?

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middle age man wrote:

I have an FW3A that turns off around mid-high while ramping up. The problem is intermittent. I can fix it by unscrewing the head and screwing it on again. My thought is a dry solder joint cutting off an FET channel, rather than a contact issue. What do you think?

I have the same problem with my FW3A, but I don't know what's causing it.

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Try to tighten both retaining rings.

middle age man
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Both retaining rings (head and tail) are as tight as I can get them.

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middle age man wrote:
Both retaining rings (head and tail) are as tight as I can get them.

Try loosening the tailcap retaining ring slightly.

I found that on one of my FW3As I got a bad connection if I fully tightened the tailcap retaining ring. I think the ring caused the board with the switch to not sit quite flat and not get a good connection with the inner tube.

middle age man
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Yes; I did that for a bit, when I was having connection problems, and found it helped. At some point, I jammed the retaining ring in the tailcap and can’t budge it now. This switching off when ramping up is a different matter. I am wondering if it may cut off when the battery falls below a certain voltage; it worked fine last night between 4.0 and 4.1.

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Mine at first did the same thing when ramping up. Tightening the tail cap and head always stopped it although I could not perceive them turning. Sounds like the inner tube is very touchy. For whatever reason mine has not done it in awhile.

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pennzy wrote:
Sounds like the inner tube is very touchy.

It doesn’t sound related to the inner tube at all. The inner tube is only responsible for controlling the switch. When you have a complete loss of power as the amperage draw increases it points to something else. Perhaps really high resistance through the body connections or battery connections.

Middle age man, you’re using a flat top battery and not a button top, right? You by try cleaning the threads and battery connections.

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Jason, I defer to your experience. Somehow mine stopped acting up after tightening the ends. Maybe the connection to the driver with the outer tube was bad? It stopped doing it totally by itself knock on wood.

hank
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I got that sort of thing, and loosening/tightening/cleaning fixed it. I blamed phantom button-clicks, momentary interruptions of the circuit.

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ToyKeeper wrote:
hank wrote:
try wiping the threads clean, using a little bit of conductive lubricant

Don’t use conductive lubricant in a flashlight. It’s a quick way to get shorts and leaks which are very difficult to get rid of, and can cause the light to stop functioning correctly.

The type of lubricant needed is dielectric / non-conductive.

It can also be important to make sure the lubricant does not cause the O-rings to dissolve. I forget which types do that, but two safe common types are Nyogel 760G and Super Lube PTFE. Both are dielectric and safe for O-rings. The latter is even food-grade; it’s basically Teflon gel.


I just want to say that maybe Teflon shouldn’t be referred to as food-grade. While it is arguably stable on pots and pans (until scratched), it shouldn’t be consumed.

If anyone wants my opinions about Dupont and Teflon in general…

Anyways, yes, electrical contacts should get dielectric grease – be they bulb sockets, flashlight threads, or whatever. A lot of times “Nyogel” is used as a generic recommendation; as mentioned in this thread, there are many types, and 760G is what you want for your flashlights.

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It’s petroleum-based lubricants like vaseline that will stretch or dissolve rubber o-rings.

middle age man
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I am using a flat top 30Q. I have cleaned the contacts and threads; the threads were a bit dirty. I am also noticing that when ramping up and down, there is a gap in brightness, i.e. there is a sudden jump in brightness from medium low to medium high and vice-versa, rather than a smooth transition.

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Scallywag wrote:

I just want to say that maybe Teflon shouldn’t be referred to as food-grade. While it is arguably stable on pots and pans (until scratched), it shouldn’t be consumed.

If anyone wants my opinions about Dupont and Teflon in general…

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middle age man wrote:
I am using a flat top 30Q. I have cleaned the contacts and threads; the threads were a bit dirty. I am also noticing that when ramping up and down, there is a gap in brightness, i.e. there is a sudden jump in brightness from medium low to medium high and vice-versa, rather than a smooth transition.

Wow, so in addition to turning off (occasionally) while ramping up, it also has a sudden jump in brightness?

Man, I would see about getting a replacement. Sounds like there is an issue with the driver. There are three channels and it’s designed to transition through all 3 smoothly. If it’s not transmitting the pwm signal for channel two it will ramp up through channel one and then stay at that brightness level until channel two goes 100% and then you might see the jump in brightness. That would be a pretty big jump though. What you’re describing sounds very strange like there’s a problem in the MCU.

What does it do when you double-click to go to Turbo? Does it sometimes go to Turbo and sometimes turn off?

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middle age man
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Turbo works fine. The problem is intermittent, so it was working fine all yesterday and last night. This morning it was switching off consistently when ramping – around the mid-level brightness. Switching it to turbo and off a few times just now has reset it to normal, save for the jump in brightness, which is not that big. I am wondering if it might be a switch problem.

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middle age man wrote:
Turbo works fine. The problem is intermittent, so it was working fine all yesterday and last night. This morning it was switching off consistently when ramping – around the mid-level brightness. Switching it to turbo and off a few times just now has reset it to normal, save for the jump in brightness, which is not that big. I am wondering if it might be a switch problem.

It turning off seems highly unlikely to be related to the switch. If the switch circuit got disconnected it would simply stop ramping as if you are taking your finger off the button. If the switch circuit got shorted it would continue to ramp all the way as if you were holding down the button. If the switch circuit got disconnected and then reconnected it would jump to Turbo. I can’t think of any thing related to the switch that could make it turn off while ramping up.

The one exception being is if the switch circuit got disconnected for at least 1 second and then somehow reconnected very briefly. That would simulate you ramping up, taking your finger off the switch for a second and then doing a single click. This would turn the light off but I find the odds of all of that happening just like I described to be extremely unlikely.

Besides something wrong with the driver, I’m not thinking of too many other things that it could be. Maybe temperature related? You said going to Turbo seemed to fix it and turbo does generate a lot of heat. I’m sorry I’m not of much help.

I wonder if you can buy a new driver really cheap. Has anybody seen drivers for sale?

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middle age man
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I am thinking of posting to see if anyone is willing to swap out the driver for a Lume1 CC driver.

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middle age man wrote:
I am thinking of posting to see if anyone is willing to swap out the driver for a Lume1 CC driver.

You can’t solder? It’s not that hard and the equipment is not that expensive. It’s definitely a good ability to have.

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I’m planning on reflashing my FW3A with Anduril2, and i see there is a no-FET version. I’m guessing I’ll be able to tell when I take the driver out to flash if there’s a FET or not, and it was advertised to have a FET and produce 2800 lumen. Is there a no FET version available commercially, or do folks remove the FET as a mod?

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sbslider wrote:
I’m planning on reflashing my FW3A with Anduril2, and i see there is a no-FET version. I’m guessing I’ll be able to tell when I take the driver out to flash if there’s a FET or not, and it was advertised to have a FET and produce 2800 lumen. Is there a no FET version available commercially, or do folks remove the FET as a mod?

Some LEDs (eg, 219B) could be damaged using a FET. The no-fet firmware simply disables the FET without having to physically remove it.

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that makes sense. I see there’s a 219 version also, maybe for the 219c emitter?

my FW3A was purchased on amazon, it didn’t specify the emitter. I’m guessing because of that its not a 219, is that a decent assumption?

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sbslider wrote:
that makes sense. I see there’s a 219 version also, maybe for the 219c emitter?

my FW3A was purchased on amazon, it didn’t specify the emitter. I’m guessing because of that its not a 219, is that a decent assumption?


The listing should tell you what LEDs you have. If you don’t see it, try to post a link to where you bought it from and we’ll take a look.

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You’re right JasonWW, it was in the title of the listing, as well as in the descriptions, 3 Cree XP-L HI LEDS Facepalm

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I got a question about blip at 1×7135 – if I’m ramping from floor and I want to stay on exactly on 1×7135 level – should I stop ramping right at the blip? Or I should go higher, and then ramp back down and stop at the blip?

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